#YearofYA Takes on GRAPHIC NOVELS in March ’16



Since February stretched out an extra day, and March is often short (teaching-wise) due to Spring Break, we decided to take on Graphic Novels to round out the 1st quarter of #YearofYA in 2016!

Pick 1… or 3… or as many as you want to fit into the 3 weeks we have, and be prepared to discuss what you picked, your reactions, and how we can better connect our students to the growing collection of graphic novels.

Need ideas of what to read?

Meet the LOC National Ambassador to Young People’s Literature, and Graphic Novelist, Gene Luen Yang in this NY Times article (Jan 4 2016). Learn more about his post of Ambassador here, at read.gov.

Our friends Lauren (@lpdeal) & Allison (@reader4evr) suggested this topic when we asked for ideas a few months back, and it should make for a great discussion on March 22nd (8pm EST). If you ever have a theme that you want us to tackle, just tweet @MolleeBranden @Tavia_Clark & include #YearofYA – we’ll be sure to see it 🙂

#YearofYA twitter chat is different than most virtual book clubs, because we pick a theme and let YOU pick the books you want to read! Join us every month (like our awesome faithful friends do!) or hop in when the theme interests you!



Social Justice Titles #YearofYA

Our awesome, “frequent flier” to #YearofYA, @bjneary shared this impressive list of titles that fall under our February theme, Social Justice in YA. They are organized by genre, and give specific information about topics covered.

We thank her for this generous contribution that you can refer back to whenever you need some books that deal with social justice!

Did you read any of the titles listed below? Be sure to join us on Monday 2/29 at 8pm EST to discuss Social Justice in YA w/ our amazing #YearofYA readers!

Social Justice Books #YearofYA 

Compiled by librarian/YA enthusiast, BJ Neary 

Title Author Year Genre Topics
I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai 2013 Nonfiction Biography, Pakistan, Human Rights, Education
Port Chicago 50 Sheinkin, Steve 2014 Nonfiction African American Sailors, Mutiny
Our stories, our songs : African children talk about AIDS Ellis, Deborah 2005 Nonfiction Disease, Orphans, AIDS, Africa
Brown Girl Dreaming Woodson, J. 2014 Nonfiction Autobiography, African Americans, Civil Rights
A Splash of Red Bryant, J. 2013 Nonfiction Biography, Overcoming Adversity, Disabilities
Say You’re One of Them 2008 Nonfiction Genocide, Rwanda, Ethiopia
Courage Has No Color Stone, T. L. 2013 Nonfiction African Americans, Civil Rights, Prejudice & Racism
Imprisoned Sandler, M. 2013 Nonfiction Prejudice & Racism, WWII Japanese Internment
The Other Wes Moore Moore, W. 2010 Nonfiction African Americans, Violence, Social Conditions
The Kids of Kabul Ellis, D 2012 Nonfiction Children of War. Afghan War 2001
We’ve Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March Levinson, C. 2012 Nonfiction African Americans, Civil Rights
I am Nujood: Age 10 & Divorced Nujood, A. 2010 Nonfiction Yemen, Social Life & Customs, Child Marriage
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Skloot, R. 2010 Nonfiction African American women, medical ethics, human experimentation in American Medicine
Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees Ellis, D. 2009 Nonfiction Children & War

Iraq War

The Bite of Mango Kamara, M. 2008 Nonfiction Autobiography, Children & War, Overcoming Adversity
Girl Soldier McDonnell, F. 2008 Nonfiction Uganda, Kidnapping, child soldiers
Slave Nazer, Mende 2003 Nonfiction Child slaves, Sudan Africa
George Gino, Alex 2015 LGBTQ Bullies, Gender Identity, Transgender
Almost Perfect Katcher, Brian 2009 LGBTQ Gender Identity, Transgender
Ash Lo, Malinda 2009 LGBTQ Lesbians, Love
Fade to Black Flinn, Alex 2009 LGBTQ Bullying, HIV
Keeping You a Secret Peters, Julie A. 2003 LGBTQ Lesbians, Gender Identity
Luna Peters, Julie A. 2006 LGBTQ Transgender, Gender Identity
The Miseducation of Cameron Post Danforth, Emily M. 2012 LGBTQ Gays, Lesbians
Shine Myracle, Lauren 2011 LGBTQ Hate Crimes, Gays, Lesbians
October Mourning Newman, Leslea 2012 LGBTQ Hate Crimes, Gays, Murder
Simon vs The HomoSapiens Agenda Albertalli, Becky 2015 LGBTQ Gays
None of the Above Gregorio, E. 2015 LGBTQ Gender Identity, Intersex
Fans of the Impossible Life Kate Scelsa 2015 LGBTQ Bullies, Gays, Foster children, Mental Illness
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story Levithan, David 2015 LGBTQ Gays
I’ll Give You the Sun Nelson, Jandy 2014 LGBTQ Gays
Two Boys Kissing Levithan, David 2013 LGBTQ Gays, Homosexuality, Social Change
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Saenz, Benjamin Alire 2012 LGBTQ Identity, Homosexuality; Mexicana Americans
Ask the Passengers King, AS 2012 LGBTQ Lesbians, Prejudices
The Letter Q 2012 LGBTQ Nonfiction, Coming Out/Sexual Orientation, Gays Identity
Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up 2011 LGBTQ Nonfiction, Sexual Minorities
The Vast Fields of Ordinary Burd, Nick 2009 LGBTQ Coming Out/Sexual Orientation, Homosexuality
X: a novel Shabazz, Ilyasah & Magoon, K. 2015 Historical Fiction African Americans Muslims, Prejudice & Racism
Black Dove White Raven Wein, Elizabeth 2015 Historical Fiction Race Relations, Italian Ethiopian War 1935
The Book Thief Zusack, Markus 2006 Historical Fiction Holocaust, Jews, Genocide
Between Shades of Gray Sepetys, Ruta 2014 Historical Fiction Genocide, Lithuania, Russians
Echo Ryan, Pam Munoz 2015 Historical Fiction Discrimination, family
Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go: a novel of Haiti Wagner, Laura Rose 2015 Historical Fiction Earthquakes, Haiti, Refugee camps
Rose Under Fire Wein, Elizabeth 2013 Historical Fiction Holocaust, Prisoners of War
The Rock & The River Magoon, Kekla 2009 Historical Fiction African Americans, Civil Rights, Prejudice & Racism
Inside Out & Back Again Lai, Thanhha 2012 Historical Fiction Immigration, Vietnamese American
The Good Braider Farish, Terry 2012 Historical Fiction Immigration, Refugees, Sudan
Never Fall Down McCormick, Patricia 2012 Historical Fiction Genocide, Cambodia, Khmer Rouge
Copper Sun Draper, Sharon 2006 Historical Fiction Slavery
A Long Walk to Water Park, Linda Sue 2010 Historical Fiction Africa, Refugees, Immigration
Shooting Kabul Sensai, NH 2006 Historical Fiction Emigration & immigration, Refugees, Afghan Americans
The Poet Slave of Cuba Engle. Margarita 2006 Historical Fiction Slavery, Cuba
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet Ford, Jamie 2009 Historical Fiction Japanese Americans Evacuation & Relocation
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck Engle, Magarita 2011 Historical Fiction Caribbean Slavery
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba Engle, Magarita 2009 Historical Fiction Jews, Holocaust, Refugees, Cuba
The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba Engle, Magarita 2010 Historical Fiction Women Suffrage, Cuba
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom Engle, Magarita 2008 Historical Fiction Cuba Reconcentration Camps
Revolution Wiles, Deborah 2014 Historical Fiction Civil Rights,

African Americans, Segregation, Voting

The Help Stockett, K. 2009 Historical Fiction African American women, Civil rights movements
Aleutian Sparrow Hesse, Karen 2005 Historical Fiction Internment Camps
Purple Hibiscus Adichie, C. N. 2003 Historical Fiction Nigeria, Religious tyranny
Inside Out & Back Again Lai, Thanhha 2011 Historical Fiction Vietnam, Immigration
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two Bruchac, J. 2005 Historical Fiction Navajo Indians
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Boyne, John 2006 Historical Fiction Holocaust
Chanda’s Wars Stratton, A. 2008 Historical Fiction Child Soldiers
Hurricane Song Volponi, P. 2008 Historical Fiction Hurricane Katrina
Girl at War Novic, Sara 2015 Historical Fiction Child Soldiers, Croatia Civil War
All American Boys Reynolds, Jason & Kiely, B. 2015 Urban Fiction African Americas, Police Brutality, Racism, Prejudice & Racism
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty Neri, G. 2010 Urban Fiction African Americans, Gangs, Gun Violence
When I Was the Greatest Reynolds, Jason 2014 Urban Fiction Gun Violence, African Americans
The Boy in the Black Suit Reynolds, Jason 2015 Urban Fiction African Americans
Not If I See You First Lindstrom, Eric 2015 Realistic Fiction Disabilities, Blindness, Orphans
On the Edge of Gone Duyvis, Corinne 2015 Science Fiction Disabilities, Autism
Pointe Colbert, Brandy 2014 Realistic Fiction African American, Sexual Abuse

Reflectin’ on Dumplin’ #YearofYA & #2JennsBookClub

So I have a lot going through my head… professionally, personally, spiritually, bookishly…

Oh, I think I just made up a word. But, really I do. I’m nose-deep in several projects, looking ahead to 3 professional presentations in March, hitting the mid-year doldrums at school, juggling at least 1 Twitter chat a week (in a good way!), marking one-year anniversary of my father going through major medical issues, conducting research & reflection on my faith, averaging reading about 10 books a month for pleasure/school/book clubs, querying my first novel, writing my second, acting travel planner for 3 upcoming trips… needless to say, I don’t do “dull moments.”


And Dumplin’ was the perfect distraction from all that. And its the perfect example of why YA is relevant to adult readers, as well as teens. Not only is the writing smooth and engaging, the problems are painfully relatable and the moments of humor and hope stick with you like the Texas heat. Perhaps what I embraced the most was how so many of us never get 100% comfortable in our own skin.

When the book starts, Willowdean is a self-proclaimed fat girl and seems strongly rooted in her identity. Funny how relationships (both romantic and otherwise) allows insecurities to creep up. You can read summaries of this book anywhere, so instead, I’m going to point out what struck me hardest.

Our #YearofYA February theme is “Social Justice” and while I read this fab novel thanks to my friend Jodi’s recommendation, and to prepare for a 2/4 #2JennsBookClub chat, I’m grateful I read it because I can relate. Those of you who have seen me in person know what I look like, and that Willowdean’s curves on the cover do not match my silhouette. I’ve always been skinny, or “athletic build” if that paints a healthier picture, but it doesn’t always mean I’m secure. Like anyone who looks in the mirror and isn’t thrilled by what they see, or grimaces at the same comments (like WD felt about her mom’s), my shape is a reminder of hard times and elements out of my control.

I don’t work out to maintain my size. I eat junk food regularly, drink soda/alcohol, and greasy burgers when the craving hits. “You’re so lucky” people say when they hear that. They don’t know the social anxiety and depression that led me to an eating disorder. And it’s beyond comprehension to many why a 120lb 5’7″ high schooler from a 2-parent, middle class home would even have an eating disorder. Well, when you feel like the cafeteria full of piranhas out to verbally attack you (social anxiety = irrational beliefs about peoples’ thoughts), you go to the library where talking (and food!) is prohibited. And when you get home, tired from no nutrition and battling stress & depression, you find any excuse to not sit around the dinner table with your parents. Follow that pattern for nearly a year before getting help, and you totally screw up your metabolism. 12+ years later, I deal with the repercussions in the form of people constantly telling me how lucky I am because of some numbers on a scale. Along with other fun stomach aliments that I won’t go into detail about…

We need to RESPECT bodies that are not our own. Anytime someone comments on my size, I realize they don’t know the whole story. And I’ve also come to recognize that their comment is likely because they are just as insecure in their body, which is why they notice and comment on mine. I love how Amanda, Millie & Hannah also have defining physical qualities that draw attention, but they/Bo admire how (outwardly) Willowdean “never strikes {anyone} as the type to give a shit what everyone else thinks” (317). Only Willowdean, her mother, and the prick Patrick Thomas make note of her size; everyone else appreciates her for all that she is.

“Maybe fat girls or girls with limps or girls with big teeth don’t usually win pageants. Maybe that’s not the norm. But the only way to change that is to be present. We can’t expect the same things these other girls do until we demand it.” – Hannah, p. 325

We need to RESPECT our own bodies. I care deeply about my health – mentally, physically, spiritually. That’s why I’m writing about it. Why I talk about it with people I think can understand. Why I sought help when I had slipped to a dangerous place. Why I read, write, reflect, converse, and pray. I can only hope to learn and grow and deepen the respect I have for this one body, this one mind, and the one shot I’ve been given at living life.

I’d rather lose for what I am… than win for what I ain’t…

  • Kacey Musgraves